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Suggestion: Remove capitalization from "build a sentence" type answers in iPhone app

Hi. I do most of my Duolingo practice via the web site. This weekend, while mobile, I fired up the app on my phone and used it for a while. It's great!

I do have one small suggestion: one type of answer modality that exists on the iPhone but not on the web are the ones where you build a sentence by choosing words from a list, as if you were using one of those magnetic poetry kits. This is great. However, since the words you're picking have their final capitalization (and, unless I'm misremembering, even punctuation), you can sort of cheat yourself out of thinking through to the right answer 'properly' by just saying "Well, let's see, the first word in the sentence is capitalized. That eliminated 90% of the words on the screen."

I think all the words in the list you're choosing from should be all lower-case and without punctuation. Replace them with the capitalized/punctuated sentence once the sentence is submitted (if it's correct).

April 14, 2013



We are experimenting with making these word banks better/more challenging.

I enjoy these exercises more when the first word isn't given away too, we just have to make sure we don't make them so hard that people give up on them (a problem we had while testing them).


Did people really give up on them? That's weird. I mean, having to pick words is much easier than typing the whole thing manually, even if the first word is not capitalized.


Perhaps an option to allow people to do the lesson with/without the capitalization? That would allow the user to slightly modify their challenge level depending on how comfortable they are with the lesson material.

(this could be an option you can change at the start of every lesson, or maybe the option can be toggled from the Settings tab on the left sidebar)


This is a question for an interaction designer, but my prejudice is that a big part of the benefit of using the app on the phone is that it LIMITS your options. Anything that adds another transaction or complexity to the app is going to make the user less likely to use it.

If tylrmurphy is saying they have user testing data that shows that people give up on that type of problem without the capitalization clues, then I have to respect that as data, and admit that maybe it's more important to not lose the new learners than to not give 'unwanted hints' to more, uh, obsessed users like me.


Yup, this bugs me too!


It all seems to be lower case now for Spanish and I think it is much better.


Second this. Funny that I saw some lessons without first word capitalization and thought how clever it was to implement this and avoid minor cheating. However, the next lessons were again with the first word capitalized.


Wholeheartedly agree. It makes it unjustly easier.


I just checked it out last night and it looks like the capitalization issue has been resolved (at least it has in Spanish conjunctions). Good work as always, Duolingo!


I definitely have saved myself in the conjuction exercises thanks to the capitalization but it definitely feels like cheating. I appreciate the type of question because it speeds up phone practice but I agree with other users that it is too much help when capitalization/punction are included. If I can't slide around a few words to make a sentence then I think I deserve to lose a heart.


I personally just translate these in my head before even looking at the possible answers. If they aren't going to implement this capitalization change, this is a good way to keep it challenging for yourself, I think. :)


Maybe Duolingo could have words show up as lowercase unless they would always need to be uppercase. For example, I'm mostly using Duolingo for strengthening my German right now. You need to have certain words capitalized every time or they wouldn't be correct and/or convey different meanings. After the user has chosen the words from the options and submits it, then the sentence could transform itself into containing the correct capitalization and punctuation. That way the user gets the extra challenge of not having the first word revealed along with the continued reinforcement of correct grammar.


I think all the words in the list you're choosing from should be all lower-case

I'm not sure it's a good idea. Indeed some words have to be capitalized (I in English, any noun in German, proper nouns in many languages, probably other cases too). And showing them in an uncapitalized way would let think there are cases where they are not capitalized.

However, I support the idea of not capitalizing the word that is supposed to be the first only for this reason.


Agreed. I noticed this immediately in the Android app. The capitalized word is a dead giveaway that it should be your first selected word. It'd be better if everything all of the words were lower case.


I agree, uppercase should be removed from the possible answers. I have just started Swedish, and at the starting levels the right answer usually consists of a single word. This word is now always capitalized, so I cannot even try to find the right answer for myself, it is staring me in the face.


For anyone still following this discussion after 6 years: this was just changed in Duolingo on Android! The first word is no longer capitalized in the word bank unless it is a proper noun (or otherwise demands capitalization).

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